Literary Landscapes. Photography 1985-2007 - Elżbieta Lempp
Andrzej Bart photographed by Elzbieta Lempp
Elżbieta Lempp has been taking photos since the beginning of the 1980s. Photography provided her with a means of nonverbal communication with the world. Instead of words pictures: children, faces, streets in black and white.
Elżbieta Lempp's photographs negotiate between the model's freedom and the requirements of the camera. Rather than making any demands, the photographer is listening and - literally - looking. Some portraits seem to confirm what is commonly known about a particular writer, both directly and metaphorically. The viewer knows that Bronisław Maj is an amazing comedian, thatAndrzej Stasiuk dismisses a rigid form with a wave of the hand, that Joe Alex needs to smoke a pipe like any detective should, that the gentleman style of Jacek Dehnel is an inseparable part of his work, that Herling-Grudzińskiis more of a figure, a distant passerby, than a visible face and that his silhouette in that famous trench coat is his actual portrait, that Mariusz Wilk lives in a different space and in a different relationship with nature, that Maria Janion's melancholy features are carved in stone so that the clock in front of her (like an hourglass in the representations of vanitas) must in one way or another emphasize her melancholy through allegory.
Other pictures show the as of yet unexplored or not fully recognized potential of the faces: Piotr Sommer, Małgorzata Musierowicz, Antoni Libera and Jakub Ekieras Hollywood actors, Piotr Matywiecki as Elias Canetti,Jerzy Pilch as Umberto Eco, Tadeusz Różewicz as the last Indian chief (in a photo that seems to date back to the early 20 c.), Leszek Kołakowski as a gargoyle on a gothic cathedral, Jerzy Kronhold as a Rodin sculpture,Stanisław Lem as a little boy so absorbed in perusing stamps as only children can be, Anna Piwkowska as a princess posing for Bronzino (that peculiar angle of the neck), Julia Hartwig as a model for an impressionist painter (the shape and position of the head, the scarf) as if the poet wished to live in the period she wrote so much about, Marcin Świetlicki as a bird hiding its head under its wing.
One may like various details in those pictures: the rays of sunlight shining on Andrzej Stasiuk's face and hand in such a unique and beautiful way, that one stretched finger in Dorota Masłowska's folded hands, the white pattern on Ewa Bieńkowska's sweater, which seems to be peeling off and piercing the mist like a loose ribbon, the playful look in Stefan Chwin's eyes, a slightly broken symmetry in Ryszard Kapuściński's symmetrical pose (the whole power of his writing can be felt in this divergence), the essence of Sławomir Mrożek's ear, Wisława Szymborska's mysterious right eye which seems to see things differently (and to be something else) than her left eye.
A lot of those faces are cheerful and happy or intrigued by the situation, others are lending their look to the photographer with a certain restraint - all of them are clear, complete, so intensely present in the moment as the dandelions captured by Elżbieta Lempp against the background of the maceba stone.
The world as seen by Elżbieta Lempp often starts with a shadow. The back side, a dim depth (of an apartment, a street, a forest), a sort of primaty distance which makes the foreground an element of the perspective, a dependent reality. There is a lot to do, a long distance to run for one's eyes in those photography landscapes, scenes and portraits..."
- Marek Bieńczyk in Elżbieta Lempp, Literary Landscapes. Photography 1985-2007
Other published works: Wielka Ciekawość / Great Curiosity(BoSz2006, text Anna Nasiłowska), Rozbiórka / Demolition (Biuro Literackie 2007, text Magdalena Rybak). Elżbieta Lempp LiteraryLandscapes. Photography 1985-2007 is so far the mostcomprehensive presentation of her "Portrait Gallery of Polish Writers".
- Elżbieta Lempp
Literary Landscapes. Photography 1985-2007
foreword: Elżbieta Lempp
afterword: Marek Bieńczyk
Publisher: Universitas, Cracow 2008
232 x 305, 216 pages, hardcover
Also see: Elżbieta Lempp's PhotoNarration